Tesla to make mobile molecule printers for German COVID-19 vaccine developer

Elon Musk has called the portable vaccine units ‘microfactories.’ (AFP)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Tesla to make mobile molecule printers for German COVID-19 vaccine developer

  • Tesla Inc. is building mobile molecule printers to help make the potential COVID-19 vaccine
  • Tesla had earlier bought CureVac, is also could increase its vaccine output tenfold

FRANKFURT, Germany: Tesla Inc. is building mobile molecule printers to help make the potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by CureVac in Germany, the electric-car maker’s CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

CureVac, an unlisted German company, has said it is developing portable, automated mRNA production units that it calls printers and which Musk described as “RNA microfactories.”

They are being designed to be shipped to remote locations, where they can churn out its vaccine candidate and other mRNA-based therapies depending on the recipe fed into the machine.

But for the immediate pandemic use — should its vaccine candidate win market approval – it has production sites with regulatory approval in Germany with a capacity to produce hundreds of millions of doses.

The company, based in Tuebingen and backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a pioneer of the so-called messenger RNA approach, which is also pursued by BioNTech and its partner Pfizer as well as Moderna.

RNA molecules are single-stranded versions of the DNA double-helix. Thanks to their recurring molecular pattern, they can be produced in a relatively simple biochemical process that do not require genetically modified living cells, which are needed to produce most other biotech drugs.

CureVac is also building anew stationary site that could increase its output tenfold to billions of doses.

The “microfactories” would be built at Tesla Grohmann Automation in Germany, Musk said in a Twitter thread late on Wednesday.

Tesla acquired the company that develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries and fuel cells in 2016 to expand its production.

CureVac has been working with Tesla Grohmann to develop the mobile printer technology, a person familiar with CureVac said.

Musk did not elaborate on his plans. Tesla and CureVac were not immediately available to comment.

Musk, who is known to make impromptu announcements on Twitter, had in March said that Tesla has extra FDA-approved ventilators that can be shipped free of cost to hospitals within regions where the electric-car maker delivers. 


Oil climbs on positive China data, hopes for US stimulus package

Updated 11 August 2020

Oil climbs on positive China data, hopes for US stimulus package

  • Iraq to deepen supply cuts in August and September; China’s factory deflation slows in July

LONDON: Oil rose on Monday, supported by an improvement in Chinese factory data, rising energy demand and hopes for an agreement in the United States on more coronavirus-related economic stimulus.

Brent crude rose 75 cents, or 1.7. percent, to $45.15 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) US crude was up 94 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $41.16 a barrel.

Saudi Arabian Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said on Sunday that he sees oil demand rebounding in Asia as economies gradually open up.

China’s factory deflation eased in July, driven by a rise in global oil prices and as industrial activity climbed back toward pre-coronavirus levels, adding to signs of recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

“With oil demand still slowly grinding higher, and oil supply in check due to the OPEC+ production cut deal and prices too low to incentivise strong production growth in the United States, the oil market remains undersupplied,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

Iraq said on Friday it would cut its oil output by a further 400,000 barrels per day in August and September to compensate for its overproduction in the past three months.

The move would help it comply with its share of cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, a grouping known as OPEC+.

“This would send out a strong signal to the oil market on various levels. That said, this would also require the international companies operating in Iraq to join in with the cuts,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.

Prices also found some support after US President Donald Trump said US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, wanted to meet with him to make a deal on coronavirus-related economic relief.

The talks between Democrats and members of Republican Trump’s administration broke down last week.

“The longer this drags on, the worse it is for the demand scenario,” said Michael McCarthy, market strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

However, uncertainty over rising tensions between the United States and China put some pressure on prices. Trump signed two executive orders banning WeChat and TikTok in 45 days’ time while announcing sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

Markets will now keep an eye on a China-US meeting on trade scheduled for this weekend.